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Indonesia may be the next challenger to Beijing in the South China Sea

Claim almost an entire sea for yourself and you’re bound to stir things up. That’s especially true when it’s the South China Sea, arguably the world’s most important body of water for international trade and potential future military conflicts.

Citing a “nine-dash line” it drew up at the end of World War Two, China says almost all of the sea counts as its territory. To solidify that claim—considered outrageous by various Southeast Asian nations that also claim territory in the sea—Beijing has been busy building manmade islands atop reefs in the Spratly archipelago, complete with a runway, helipad, and lighthouse.

Challenges to Beijing’s claims are growing.

This week, the US flew B52 bombers near the artificial islands, the Pentagon said on Thursday (Nov. 12), on what officials called a “routine mission” in international airspace. Last month, the US sent a warship close to the manmade islands, in an area that it’s long considered international waters. (Beijing issued verbal warnings but otherwise not much happened.)

On Oct. 29,  an international arbitration court in the Netherlands ruled it has the authorityto decide whether China is violating international law with its claims in the South China Sea, two years after the Philippines first lodged a complaint. (Beijing refuses to recognize the case.)

Indonesia is the next country stepping in.

This week, Indonesia’s chief security minister, Luhut Pandjaitan, indicated the nation could turn to an international tribunal over disputed claims involving the Natuna archipelago, parts of which intersect with the China’s nine-dash line. That follows a confirmation last Sunday (Nov. 8) that Indonesia deployed seven warships to the archipelago, saying the move is “a routine patrol program carried out by the navy to safeguard Natuna waters.”

And yesterday (Nov. 12) Indonesia’s foreign ministry said it had asked China to clarify its claims in sea. “The position of Indonesia is clear at this stage that we do not recognize the nine-dash line because it is not in line with… international law,” noted ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir. “We asked for clarification on what they mean and what they mean by the nine-dash line. That has not been clarified.”

Indonesia’s pushback against China’s claims goes much deeper than that, though.

Last summer general Moeldoko, the commander in chief of Indonesia’s armed forces, took to the Wall Street Journal to express (paywall) Indonesia’s surprise about China’s claims. “Indonesia is dismayed… that China has included parts of the Natuna Islands within the nine-dash line, thus apparently claiming a segment of Indonesia’s Riau Islands province as its territory.” In response, he added, “the Indonesian military has decided to strengthen its forces on Natuna.”

Yet there would be little reason to, if not for China’s moves in the area. Consisting of about 270 islands, the sleepy Natuna archipelago is part of Indonesia’s Riau Islands province. Most of the less than 100,000 people living there are involved in fishing or farming.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 10.11.35 AM

In September Indonesia’s defense ministry announced that it would improve the infrastructure in Natuna, including runway improvements for the benefit of warplanes and a new radar system. It also said it was deploying unmanned aerial vehicles and at least 2,000 additional personnel to the islands.

Indonesia’s government said it is still counting on diplomacy. “We don’t want to see any power projection in this area,” Pandjaitan told Reuters this week. “We would like a peaceful solution by promoting dialogue. The nine-dash line is a problem we are facing, but not only us. It also directly [impacts] the interests of Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and the Philippines.”

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Finally, the EU decides to abolish annoying data roaming charges

Good news, Europe! Mobile data roaming charges will be abolished from June 2017.

After two years of intense negotiations, which included many U-turns and delays, the ban finally passed at the European Parliament yesterday (Oct. 27). Mobile phone companies will no longer be allowed to charge customers extra for using their phone in countries across the EU.

Telecom providers can now levy a charge up €0.19 ($0.21) for outgoing voice calls, but an interim cap on charges will come into effect from April 30 next year. Extra charges will be removed altogether by 2017 following an overhaul of EU telecoms rules in 2016.

The European Commission says the new rules will finally bring an end to “huge telephone bills ruining your holiday budget.”

Type of charge July 2014 April 2016 June 2017
Outgoing voice calls (per minute) €0.19 €0.05 No extra roaming fee, same as national rate
Incoming voice calls (per minute) €0.05 To be confirmed No extra roaming fee, same as national rate
Outgoing texts (per SMS message) €0.06 €0.02 No extra roaming fee, same as national rate
Online (data download, per MB) €0.20 €0.05 No extra roaming fee, same as national rate

Americans visiting Europe won’t be so fortunate, as providers such as AT&T will continue charging around $30 for 120 megabytes of international data use. And Europeans traveling outside of Europe still need to be careful with roaming charges.

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FREE Bank Guarantees – No Money Down

Once upon a time in a city far far away a lonely man with no money decided it would be fun to start a rumor…. He had played the game of Chinese Whispers before and thought it would be a great joke if he told everyone that…… You could get Free Bank Guarantees, without paying any money until the BG was delivered to the funder.

Free BG

Free BG

In a daring moment the lonely man spread the rumor to all his friends, within weeks everyone was talking about how you could get Bank Guarantees worth Millions of Dollars for FREE, without ANY Money Upfront, Free Bank Guarantees. The news spread like wildfire as desperate people latched on to the hope of a pipe dream that was started as a lie and was in fact 100% Untrue the entire time!

The Sad Reality is our industry is full of people that believe the fairy tale that Bank Guarantees can be obtained with NO MONEY UPFRONT. The fact is they can’t! They never have been able to be purchased for free and they never will be! ALL banks especially Top 25 banks charge fees to create and transmit the Bank Guarantee to a Funder. NO BANK will do that for free! No Bank will take the risk on a transaction for the customer. NONE!

If the bank is not paid, no Bank Guarantee will EVER get sent. And if the customer (you) are not paying for the bank guarantee to be sent…. then it wont be sent and no deal will ever be concluded! You can be absolutely sure that NO BG ISSUER is going to pay the bank fees for you, why would they? If they own the BG and they pay the Bank Fees as well, why do they need you as the customer? They may as well transmit the BG to the Funder themselves and keep all the profit for themselves. Why would they share a cent with a client who has put up no money and taken no risk?

Free BG

Free BG

Its just a bad joke that people believe the free BG fairy tale! Regrettably so many people are busy believing the “I can get a Bank Guarantee with No Upfront Fees Lie” that they waste hundreds of hours each year trying to find the Gold at the end of the Rainbow that DOES NOT EXIST & NEVER HAS EXISTED!

Our $1,000 Reward Offer

We will pay any client $1,000 who can show us documented evidence of all stages of a BG Transaction being Issued, Funded and over 1 Million Dollars being paid to the clients account with the client putting No Money Upfront. Yes thats right, we will pay any client who has transacted a deal $1,000 if they can show us accurate, factual, irrefutable documentary proof that they have completed the funding of ANY BG transaction (must be a recent transaction of no more than 3 months old) with ANY rated bank and banked a profit of over 1 million dollars.

Please, I beg you, prove us wrong! If there are hundreds of people doing Bank Guarantee Deals for Free…. and there should be because everyone is talking about it…… then come take our $1,000 money!

IMPORTANT NOTE – As of the date you are reading this article…. NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON has EVER come forward with ANY evidence EVER that ANY one has EVER completed a Bank Guarantee Deal for FREE!

The truth is this….. too many people have been scammed out of Upfront Fee Money, and as a result of having a bad experience those same people made up an investment rule up in their mind that they would now only enter a transaction if they did not have to risk any money or put any money up front. This effectively created a rule that prevents them from having ANY success or EVER completing ANY BG transaction because without money paid upfront to cover the bank costs, NO deal will ever get concluded!

Try going to your local airline and telling the airline i need you to fly me across the country for free and when i get to my destination i will pay you then! See how many plane rides you can take….. NONE! Freeloaders get Nowhere!

The problem with most people is they haven’t thought through their own logic, they are so caught up in the greed and dream of making millions of dollars from nothing that they have never considered the possibility that they are believing in a lie. There are no free lunches in life, there certainly are no free million dollar lunches in life, if you don’t pay for it you don’t get it, its that simple. You get what you pay for, pay nothing, get nothing. Its the most fundamental economic principle and Bank Guarantees are operating in the centre of the economic world.

If free Bank Guarantees were a reality….. There wont be any poor man in the world today. infact Every homeless person in the world today would be doing BG deals every week.

But FREE Bank Guarantees are not a reality, they are a fairy tale, a legend promoted by poor people to live on the hope of a dream to get rich from nothing. You have more chance of buying a lottery ticket and winning the lottery than ever completing a BG Deal for free. At least with the lottery ticket you paid the money to receive the chance.

With BGs, if you don’t pay to play, you will never get your money day. Thats the simple truth. 

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American Pride to Pacific Northwest

Most river cruisers travel in Europe and Asia, but American Cruise Lines — the largest operator of small ships in the U.S. — is sending a second ship to the Pacific Northwest.

American Pride will be joining Queen of the West to sail the Columbia and Snake rivers next year.

The repositioning of American Pride is the latest in growth and expansion of this cruise company. The 150-passenger ship, built only three years ago, has been the leading cruise ship on the Mississippi River. To meet the high demand for cruising on the Columbia and Snake rivers, this authentic paddle wheeler was re-named and will offer 7-to-10-day cruises, beginning April 2.

The American Pride will be replaced on the Mississippi next year by the larger America, currently being completed at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland.

American’s reputation — according to the cruise line —rests on its service and attention to guests. Chefs source local ingredients, and programs are led by experts in the fields of history, nature and culture, sharing their knowledge and passion for the region’s best-kept treasures.

The American Pride will boast the largest staterooms on the Columbia and the Snake. All suites offer expansive views (from anywhere within the stateroom) of the Columbia River Gorge’s lush landscapes, volcanic Mount St. Helens and brilliance of Multnomah Falls, on the route pioneered by Lewis and Clark over 200 years ago. There’s an abundant selection of all-inclusive onboard features: finely styled mahogany clad lounges, complimentary cocktail hours and locally celebrated musicians.

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The CEO of one of South Africa’s largest mobile networks thinks Whatsapp is a freeloader

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No one likes a freeloader. Ask Mteto Nyati, CEO of MTN South Africa—the second biggest mobile network in the country. Speaking to South Africa’s Fin24 on Oct. 13, Nyati said that over the top (OTT) operators like the popular messaging service, Whatsapp, are making gains without any investment.

“You have to regulate them because clearly they’re making a huge amount of revenue on top of the infrastructure that the operators have paid for. Somehow they have to contribute towards the building of this infrastructure,” Nyati said.

Over the top (OTT) operators like Whatsapp, Facebook, Skype and WeChat offer their services—including voice calling, messaging and video calling—over a data connection, without having to use traditional mobile networks. OTTs are increasingly frustrating mobile service providers, who battle declining revenues in their SMS and voice segments.

MTN has set aside R10 billion ($76 million) this year to invest in improving its 3G and LTE coverage—outspending its rival, Vodacom, on capital expenditure, according to a Hilton Tarrant, a South African telecoms commentator. This is to support its growing data service business—nearly 30% of MTN’s revenues are generated from data—while revenues from prepaid and postpaid messaging has been declining over the past two years.

With a 31% market share among South Africa’s social networks, Whatsapp is giving South African mobile operators a run for their money. In South Africa, the average cost of an sending a sms is R0.80, while messaging via the app can cost as little as R0.03.

Whatsapp voice calling, introduced this year in South Africa, has also proven popular with the average cost of a call via the app ranging from R0.02 to R0.92 per minute.

While they may be eating into the messaging and voice revenues of mobile networks, OTTs like Whatsapp aren’t completely bad for business. They can help fuel data consumption—a growing revenue stream for network operators if exploited well.

South Africa’s third largest network, with 19.6 million subscribers by the end of 2014, saw an opportunity a year ago by zero-rating Whatsapp on its network for close to a year. Though the promotion came to an end on Sept. 1—with the network opting to charge its customers R5.00 for a Whatsapp bundle. Cell C’s CEO, Jose Dos Santos, says zero-rating Whatsapp has worked well.

“Cell C has seen such great success in our venture to embrace over-the-top players like Whatsapp, and we are pleased to now bring an incredible value proposition to our customers,” said Dos Santos to iTWebAfrica.

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Russia Without BS (A Tale of Two Incidents)

I’m quite certain all my readers have already heard plenty about the Dutch Safety Board’s investigation into the downing of MH17. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s asummary, and if you want to slog through the whole thing, look here. As if on cue, as tends to be the case every time some new evidence from the investigation leaked out in the past, Russia turned the bullshit up to 11 and pre-empted the release of the DBS report with another press conference held by Buk Surface-to-Air missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey. Once again, previous Russian stories were contradicted, but the fun didn’t stop yesterday. Shortly before I began writing this, the head of Russia’s aviation service was throwing out all kinds of accusations and claims, including some that contradicted yesterday’s Almaz-Antey claims. This wasn’t the first time. In other words, this satirical story is pretty close to the truth.

Some Western journalists act perplexed at this incredibly guilty behavior, particularly in light of the fact that the DSB report didn’t even attribute blame for firing the Buk and it also said that Ukraine should have closed the air space in the region (Gee, guess what part of the report Team Russia will deem reliable!). Some of us aren’t surprised at all. Personally speaking, I liken this to the recent behavior of the conservative propaganda machine back in the US when they float rumors or mock scandals about illegal immigrants committing voter fraud or Obama not being a natural born citizen. Nobody who puts these theories out there actually plans to act on them. Sure, some politicians will promote voter ID laws, but this is just about disenfranchising poor people. The real reason for these conspiracy theories is that it reassures Republicans that when they lose elections, it’s only because the other side cheated, and therefore the winning party is illegitimate.

Same thing is going on here. Russia’s foreign ministry claims that the Dutch board didn’t consider facts from “Russian experts,” without naming the experts or talking about which facts they are referring to, no doubt because the folks at the MFA can’t be bothered to keep up on the latest alternative scenario. These public statements and the media coverage they get in Russia’s domestic press is enough to reassure Putin’s base that the whole thing was unfair, and the whole world is part of a massive conspiracy against Russia.

It’s a shame though, because what Russia is doing is spitting on the graves of the victims. Then again, this is a government that spits on the graves of 25 million Soviet citizens, many of them Russian, so I guess I shouldn’t expect more sympathy for foreigners flying out of “Gayropa.” But I digress, I wanted to compare the MH17 to another recent incident, one which will suddenly have all of Team Russia nodding their heads along with my text. I’m talking of course about the airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Now as an aside, while I post links about this, I’d just like to remind you how “the mainstream media” like CNN would never report something like this.  Okay maybe they would, but they wouldn’t air allegations that it was a war crime. Okay, maybe CNN would do that, but I bet Fox news wouldn’t! Oh…wait…no. But I keep hearing from the pro-Kremlin side that state-run outlets like RT are no different from CNN and Fox. I guess this means that we should soon expect CNN and Fox to start personally attacking journalists and airing “experts” who will insist that the Taliban, Doctors Without Borders, or literally anybody but the US forces were responsible for the deadly airstrike. I mean it’s all the same, right?

Okay enough of that. The fact is that I am as disgusted by this Kunduz attack as I was about MH17. I could start pointing out how in the case of the former, the gunner on the AC-130 could at least see what he was shooting at, whereas a Buk operator is looking at blips on a screen. I’m not going to get into detail there, however, because I don’t want some Team Russia fanatic to get overexcited, whip his dick out, and start beating it right there in his office. Part of my anger is due to the fact that it’s 2015 and we’re still involved in Afghanistan, as though we’re going to somehow get some kind of victory out of this. Another part of me is angry at the lying that took place afterward. When this story broke, I have no doubt that there were people all across America who wanted to see justice be done, because this incident is a stain on the country’s flag (some Team Russia folks might need to change their pants now). In Russia, by contrast, 3% of people believe the version of MH17 that the Western world does.

With the myriad of alternative, contradictory stories that have circulated, sometimes within 24 hours of each other, it’s no wonder that these people can’t really tell you what they think actually happened. They only know it wasn’t the rebels, and it wasn’t Russia’s fault. In other words they know exactly what the Kremlin wants them to know. When the White House and Pentagon change their story or squirm in front of cameras, Americans sense bullshit and get angrier. Russians just throw up their hands and say: “Who knows what’s true? Everyone lies! We lie, they lie!” That’s the Russia Putin’s regime has built.

Before anyone balks about the comparison of MH17 to Kunduz let me point something out. Even in spite of the Pentagon’s failed attempts to spin the events, and in spite of the White House’s reluctance to support an international, independent tribunal, the administration has accepted the blame for these deaths on behalf of the United States. And of course, they admit the presence of US forces rather than pretend that only the Afghan national army is doing the fighting. They are not crying information war and claiming that the Taliban did it, or that the hospital patients and staff did it as a “provocation.” If there is an independent investigation, don’t expect its progress to be met with periodic White House press conferences featuring new experts that will “prove” alternative theories absolving the US military of blame.

Just another example of how when it comes to political regimes, the slightest difference can have a big impact on behavior. Whatever happens, however, I think it’s clear that the victims of Kunduz will get justice long before the families of the victims of MH17 ever will.

Scientists and mathematicians aren’t all white men—but you wouldn’t know that from the movies

What do you see when you picture a scientist?

For most people—myself included—the default answer is probably a white man in a lab coat, hunched over a microscope. The same image arises for the archetypical computer programmer (a white man in a hoodie, hunched over a computer) and mathematician (a white man in a threadbare cardigan, hunched over a pile of composition books).

In other words, not only do we tend to assume that all scientists, technologists, and mathematicians have poor posture—our go-to image of STEM professionals is typically white and male. Ada Lovelace Day is the perfect opportunity to change this picture.

Ada Lovelace is widely considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. A close friend of 19th-century mathematician Charles Babbage, in 1842 she published the first programs for his proposed analytical engine—a machine that was never built but bore the essential traits of a computer. Nearly a century later, her notes helped inspire Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers.

Lovelace was clearly a trailblazer. But where is her biopic?

Rather than yet another film about Steve Jobs, we need popular representations of women like Patricia Bath, who became the first African-American female doctor to patent a medical invention by developing a laser device to remove cataracts. The story of astronaut Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, is also blockbuster-ready.

When we fail to tell stories about women in science and math, we reinforce the impression that few women have patented inventions, derived important equations or otherwise contributed to scientific discoveries. This dearth of visible role models can discourage young women from pursuing careers in STEM. It also bolsters ignorant claims that women simply lack interest in these subjects—or that they’re incapable of the intellectual rigor required by such fields.

But as Gloria Steinem once said, “women have always been an equal part of the past. We just haven’t been a part of history.” In order to change public perceptions about gender and STEM, we have to put a spotlight on the contributions of women past and present.

To that end, the TED Fellows program recently published a portrait of 12 women scientists conducting groundbreaking research in subjects ranging from astrophysics to archaeology and genetics. The photograph of a dozen leading women in science gathered together obliterates the white-man-in-a-lab-coat stereotype better than any image I can recall.

What stuck with me even more than the striking image was this accompanying quote from one of the scientists:

“This week, a cab driver asked me, ‘What do men say when you tell them you’re a scientist? Because you don’t look like a scientist,’” marine biologist Kristen Marhaver says. “In this picture, I see a twinkle in each of our eyes, saying, ‘No, that’s the thing, sir. I do look like a scientist.’”

Equally powerful was the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag that spread through Twitter earlier this year after an engineer participated in her startup’s recruiting campaign and received a torrent of skeptical comments regarding her appearance.

These efforts expose the problem with assuming that an entire category of professionals should look one particular way—whether defined by gender, ethnicity, age, body shape, style of dress or any other category. A jockey looks nothing like a linebacker, yet both are athletes. Lupita Nyong’o bears little resemblance to Robert De Niro, but both are Oscar-caliber actors. The same logic applies to people in STEM.

Chances are the next big breakthroughs in science, technology, engineering and math will come from people who look less like Albert Einstein and more like “first lady of physics” Chien-Shiung Wu or computer scientist Grace Hopper. By destroying stereotypes about what kind of person “belongs” in STEM, we can encourage new generations of women to work toward life-changing innovations.

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South Africa’s ‘next president’ is entangled in another corporate tax dodging allegation—this time its with MTN

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South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa—long seen as the most likely next successor to president Jacob Zuma—has  seen his name caught up in another corporate tax dodging allegation, this time with Africa’s largest mobile phone company MTN.

Last week Friday, amaBhungane, an investigative journalism organization, and Finance Uncovered, a global network of journalists, published a story alleging that Africa’s largest mobile network, MTN, was involved in shifting millions of dollars from its subsidiary companies in Nigeria, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to companies in Dubai and Mauritius in order to avoid its tax obligations. This all happened under Ramaphosa’s watch, as he was chairman of MTN’s board of directors, between 2001 and 2013.

In September last year, South Africa’s Mail and Guardian reported that Lonmin—a mining company which Ramaphosa was a board member of between 2010 and 2013—was involved in a scheme to move profits generated from its platinum mining activities in South Africa to Bermuda.

While Ramaphosa, one of South Africa’s richest men, has taken a strong public stance against tax avoidance as deputy president it doesn’t seem to be in tune with his former life as a captain of industry. It is also causing a revision to the expectation that he is next in line when Zuma’s term ends in 2019.

According to the report, MTN subsidiary companies in Nigeria, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana paid “management fees”—which according to MTN cover for elements like back office support, technology transfer (to subsidiary companies) and use of the MTN brand.

While it is common for telecom companies to charge their subsidiaries management fees—as MTN itself argues in a response to a set of questions asked by the investigative team—the bone of contention is whether the large sums of money flowed to “real offices staffed with people doing actual work to earn the money” as the investigative report states.

MTN’s ‘management fees’

The investigative team reports that despite MTN having its headquarters located in South Africa, 55% of the “management and technical fee payments” flow to “MTN International” (MTNI)—a company which has no staff and is located in Mauritius. The remaining 45% was paid to MTN Dubai—a subsidiary which the company says it renders international financial services and shared services to MTN Group.

Territories like Dubai and Mauritius are better known as “tax havens”—many multinational companies stash their profits here using complicated payment systems to subsidiaries. The lure of a low tax rate, or a sometimes a zero-rate tax regime, is hard to resist: it means multinationals can cut the cost of doing business without paying tax in the country they’re required to do so.

Country Offshore country Amount Period
Nigeria Dubai R3.7 billion *earmarked (Nigerian government ordered MTN to reverse R2.6 billion) 2007-2013
Uganda Mauritius R85.6 million 2009
Ghana Dubai R3.7 billion 2008 – 2013
Côte d’Ivoire Mauritius R512.9 million 2012 – 2013
 Source: amaBhungane, Finance Uncovered

Chris Maroleng, MTN spokesman said the company has not been involved in any tax avoidance scheme and that it had responded fully to the investigative team’s claims.

“We have been able to prove that we’re tax compliant in all our operational jurisdictions. We have not infringed any laws and we have nothing to hide,” said Maroleng. He added that MTN had been in contact with the amaBhungane and Finance Uncovered team for a “protracted period” and that the company had satisfied itself with all of its responses.

The deputy president’s office said it is referring all queries on the matter to MTN.

Meanwhile, the Right 2 Know campaign, a South African organization that advocates for freedom of expression and anti-corruption, has played on a MTN ad-slogan from 2009 to signal their discontent. MTN frequently used the South African slang word “ayoba” (loosely translated as “cool”) in their ads. Now R2K—is calling for the investigations against—has spun the slogan back to the company and Ramaphosa. Their version: “Tax dodging is not ayoba.”

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Code42 Snares Huge $85M Series B Investment

Code42, the Minneapolis-based developers of the Crashplan enterprise backup tool, announced a massive $85 million round today. Code42 doesn’t do them small. It has had onlyone previous round for $52.5 million at the beginning of 2012.

The company could have gotten more if it wanted it, according to CEO Joe Payne. “This was the amount of money we needed for the next stage of our growth,” he said. They were reluctant to take more and risk diluting existing shares.

Code42 went with two big rounds separated by several years, but this could be it says Payne. “This is the last private round we need to do. It gives us years of runway and capital to invest in our business,” he said.

The round was led by JMI Equity and New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA). Existing investors Accel and Split Rock Partners also participated. Today’s investment brings the total to $137.5 million over the two rounds.

Crashplan began life as a tool for backing up your laptop, pivoted to the enterprise and has been growing fast — 100 percent year over year, according to Payne. One of the advantages of Crashplan is that it’s easy to use, and rarely requires IT intervention after it’s in place. Files are backed up automatically and Payne claims end users can restore files themselves in most cases.

The tool is platform agnostic, so it backs up even Macs and Linux machines and it backs up to the cloud, so users can recover their files from anywhere, even on a new machine. It’s important to note that backup is different from storage. You store stuff on your hard drive. You back stuff up in case something goes wrong and you need to get your files back — and Crashplan is designed to backup from laptops and mobile devices, as opposed to backing up the entire datacenter.

While cloud storage can act as a backup in some cases, that’s not necessarily its primary purpose. That means in practice that Crashplan isn’t competing with Dropbox and Google Drive so much as DruvaDatto Backupify (which is designed for cloud to cloud backup) and EMC, HP and the traditional enterprise vendors.

The company typically sees either Druva or the traditional vendors in deals, according to Payne. Customers include Intuit, Adobe, Stanford University, Lockheed Martin and Mayo Clinic.

One of the ways Code42 plans to use the money is to expand its understanding of the data that comes through the system. Like many SaaS vendors, the company collects a tremendous amount of data just by the nature of its business.

It could potentially start to root out information such as when a file carrying a virus entered the system and who opened that file or show that an exiting employee who just gave you a clean laptop, actually transferred 500 files to a private Dropbox account earlier in the week.

This kind of information moves Code42 from a pure backup and restore service into something much more valuable. Being able to access and report on the data about the backup could transform the company in significant ways.

It’s not there yet, but the plan is to move in that direction, Payne says. That could result in an entirely new set of services for IT and security admins over and above what it offers today.

Saudi Arabia’s last best chance may be an alliance with Israel

Given it’s location, resources and religious significance, Saudi Arabia should have developed into one of the world’s great powers: a Norway in the Middle East, perhaps, or a South Korea on the Arabian Peninsula. At the very least, someone at the top should’ve realized the good times wouldn’t last—eventually the oil would run out, superpowers would move on, and the country would have to stand on its own.

Apparently not. Modern Saudi Arabia finds itself in desperate circumstances, which call for desperate measures. The kingdom’s last best chance may be the one nobody saw coming: an alliance with Israel.

Decades of distrust

In 1979, the very same Soviet Union that had bankrolled Saudi Arabia’s former nemeses, including Nasser’s socialist Egypt, invaded Afghanistan. The world’s most powerful land army was now a hop, skip, and a jump away. Saudi Arabia partnered with Pakistan, the United States, and local Afghan forces to make sure the Soviets never made it farther.

Meanwhile, earlier in 1979, the pro-Western Shah of Iran—a fellow absolute ruler of a compliant petrochemical power—was replaced by the self-declared Islamic Republic. Saudi Arabia and Iran almost immediately clashed, beginning a decades-long adversarial relationship. Making the first move, Saudi Arabia, her Gulf Cooperation Council allies, and the United States backed Saddam Hussein’s brutal invasion of Iran. Iran survived, scathed and angry, but also contained.[pullquote]To keep her neighbors from democratizing, Saudi Arabia was spending vast sums of money on their stability while burning cash domestically. [/pullquote]

9/11 and America’s decision to topple the Taliban (which only Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates had recognized) changed this. Not only was that a failure, and horribly executed, it had two terrible side effects for the Saudis: It removed Iran’s principal regional opponent and exhausted America, her principal superpower patron. More about this later.

In early 2011, a popular uprising toppled Tunisia’s longtime dictator. This was vaguely ominous, but when the contagion spread to Egypt, it became downright terrifying. The largest Arab nation, mostly Sunni Muslim like Saudi Arabia, could not be allowed to become a democracy. The convulsions reached Yemen to the south, and fellow Gulf monarchy Bahrain off Saudi Arabia’s eastern coast.

When the dust had settled, Saudi Arabia and her allies had managed to avoid democracy in Egypt, crushed popular hopes in Bahrain, and launched a devastating war against Yemeni rebels. The Middle East seemed to be at peace once more, while the Arab Spring in Syria meant Iran’s major regional ally, and conduit to Hezbollah, was tied down.

To keep her neighbors from democratizing, however, Saudi Arabia was spending vast sums of money on their stability, even while burning through cash domestically. In such a precarious situation, any one new development can threaten catastrophe.

There have been three.

Barack has left the building

Right as Saudi Arabia was about to go to war with Yemen, Riyadh asked erstwhile ally Pakistan to pitch in. It seems the kingdom may have assumed that the region’s largest military, and only Muslim nuclear power, would happily sign up. But Pakistan’s parliament, smarting from years of sectarian warfare, was in no mood to find itself in the middle of an Iranian-Saudi proxy war, and voted no.

Busy signing a nuclear deal with Iran, despite Israeli protestations and Saudi anxieties, US president Barack Obama was also not particularly interested. Add to this America’srising energy independence, and the Middle East became an afterthought in Washington.

Even worse news came just weeks after the deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program was signed. Russia escalated its involvement in Syria, backing the Iranian ally. After nearly collapsing before a Sunni coalition, the Assad regime now had a lifeline: troops, hardware, and aircraft from one of the world’s most powerful nuclear nations. The end result? Iran now may have the superpower backing Saudi Arabia once did.

Iranian showdown

Saudi Arabia’s principal concern is preventing Iran from dominating the region. But, of course, Iran and Saudi Arabia are not equals. Iran is militarily far stronger, economically far more capable, and strategically far more sophisticated. Despite suffering years of sanctions, Iran has spread its influence across the region—and without these sanctions, will of course be more powerful. Despite enjoying years of cash windfalls, Saudi Arabia finds herself remarkably isolated.

The kingdom has put down tens of billions to keep Egypt on her side. Impoverished, struggling with an insurgency and governed by the same incompetent military elites who oversaw the country’s decline from powerful regional player into irrelevancy, Egypt is more liability nowadays than asset.

This leaves GCC allies, who might be eager to help Saudi Arabia but they’re too small to make a substantial difference.

A desperate Saudi Arabia has fewer and fewer options when it comes to counterbalancing Iran, none of them particularly suited to the task.

The four potential horsemen

Turkey might have seemed promising, with its NATO membership, shared interests in Syria, large military and Sunni Islamist government. But Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian president is likely to restart a Kurdish insurgency and, anyhow, Turkey is well aware that Russian forces are to its north (Ukraine) and south (Syria), and nowviolating its airspace. Turkey’s next moves will be hard to predict.

China’s certainly powerful enough, but why would China intervene in a regional proxy war on the wrong side of Russia and Iran and the same side as America? Sure, China has energy needs—but China also doesn’t need its own Afghanistan.[pullquote]When the enemy of your enemy is also your enemy, you’ve no choice but to determine who you’re less afraid of.[/pullquote]

India’s not as wealthy or powerful as China, but has a shared interest in combatting Islamic extremism. Too, under its far-right government, India’s been tilting towardsAmerica and, more importantly, Israel—but India has a huge Muslim minority, many whom are Shia, and has few good reasons to get bogged down in a sectarian war.

Which brings us back to Israel, the Middle East’s sole nuclear power. With the Netanyahu government’s increasingly open hostility to even the idea of Palestinian statehood, the Saudis would seem unlikely to openly embrace Tel Aviv. But there is already tacit Israeli-Saudi cooperation, including talks and, in the GCC at larger, tentative steps towards trade and normalization, which have gradually come to light.

There will be more such cooperation, and more openly: Saudi Arabia and Israel already find themselves on the same side of issues. They are both opposed to the Iran Deal, dislike the idea of Assad’s surviving in power, have different reasons for detesting Hezbollah and aren’t very keen on Moscow backing up an Iranian proxy responsible for more deaths and more brutality than even ISIS. When the enemy of your enemy is also your enemy, you’ve no choice but to determine who you’re less afraid of.

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